AYER -- With a record-breaking number of registered 5K race participants, the ninth annual Janis Bresnahan Run for Education had another successful, fun year.
Janis Bresnahan's brothers, Kevin and Ben Bresnahan, served as event coordinators, managing the day's activities in their sister's memory in a way that would honor her love of life.
Growing up in Ayer as an avid outdoor enthusiast whose hobbies included running, cycling and boating, Janis served as co-captain of the Ayer High School women's track team in her senior year.
Following school, Janis went on to dedicate her life and work to the education of children, teaching preschoolers at "Kiddie Depot" and later transitioning into teaching computer education as an enrichment program at several local elementary schools.
Her passion for teaching made it an easy choice to remember Janis each year by raising money for the Ayer-Shirley Education Foundation.
Under warm temperatures, this year's Bresnahan family event raised more than $32,000 to benefit the Ayer-Shirley Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization supported by charitable donations from individuals and businesses.
The mission of the foundation is to provide enrichment programs and professional training aimed at improving the quality of education for students in the Ayer-Shirley Regional Schools.
There were 543 runners and walkers of all ages, with 299 participating in the 5K, 162 in the 2K, and 82 youngsters in the various Tot Trots.
In addition, approximately 50 volunteers helped on the day of the event, putting the total attendance at just over 600 people. Bresnahan family members joined in the occasion from as far away as Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut.
The event is held each year at Ayer-Shirley High School, with the start and finish line set up on the track surrounding the football field. This year, activities tents set up with face-painting, a Legos table, a tattoo booth and sand designs, were filled with children who ran from table to table, wanting to take part in all that was offered. Live music performed by "The Nays," a local classic rock band, entertained spectators.
Maureen Kilcommins, president of the Ayer-Shirley Education Foundation said, "We would like to thank the Bresnahan Family and friends for putting on another great Janis Bresnahan Run for Education. The money raised will allow the Ayer-Shirley Education Foundation to continue to provide educational enrichment opportunities otherwise not available to the students in Ayer and Shirley.
"The education foundation funds grants submitted by teachers in the Ayer and Shirley schools to provide such things as science and technology equipment, electronics, art programs, lectures and much more," she said. "We are thankful to be a part of such a great community event."
The Bresnahan family expressed great appreciation for the support shown by the community. According to Dana Bresnahan, who runs the registration activities on race day, "Sunday was a record turnout in all events for the Janis Bresnahan Run. It was a great day and a wonderful tribute to Janis, who loved children so much.
"Our cousin Betsy (Bresnahan) Dolan does an incredible job organizing the Tot Trot for kids ages 1 to 6," she said, "and lots of fun activities for the kids. It's great to see so many smiling faces. We added a 2K fun run/walk so that family members of all ages would have a fun event to participate in. I think it was our best event yet!"
This year's 5K Race winners were Tim Gavin, (Male, age 37), of Weston, who finished with a time of 17:22; and Kara Haas, (Female - age 42), of Chelmsford, with a finish time of 18:39. This wasn't Kara's first win in the Janis Bresnahan 5K Race. The daughter of former Ayer Middle School teacher and principal, Richard Molloy, she was the overall winner of the 5K race in 2006 and has placed first for the women's category a number of times.
Janis Bresnahan's love for children carries on through the annual Janis Bresnahan Run for Education. Organizing an annual run in her memory is intended to bring her friends, family and the community together in a positive way and raise money for a good cause.